Programmer builds a team of robots

By Jensen Pak

Programming a robotic arm and other systems, Josh Lappen ’13 researched polymorphic robotics as an intern at the University of Southern California this summer. Lappen worked under Professor Wei-min Shen, the Director of Polymorphics Robotics Library.

“Basically, the idea [of polymorphic robotics, also called modular robotics] is that a large group of physically-identical (and code-identical) robots can work together dynamically to accomplish large or complex tasks that one of them alone couldn’t handle,” Lappen said.

During his research of modular robotics, Lappen learned other programming languages such as C and other C-subsets, and also researched the necessary software and hardware for the robots.

Lappen explained that he achieved a better understanding of a typical post-graduate and doctoral program.

“I basically pretended to be a graduate student,” he said.

Lappen set his own hours to work at USC, but because coding was a large part of his work, he was also able to do it efficiently from home.

“I really liked the ability to pursue my passion for robotics and my curiosity about polymorphics,” Lappen said. “Everyone in the lab has been incredibly friendly and helpful, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount.”